A guest post by Natalie Thomasmeyer (with Kim Keller)
She wakes up with a perfect smile for me, and as it broadens, her eyes glisten with a radiance that takes my breath away.
She’s my precious little girl, and for years, she was only a dream.
My dream was to be a mother, but I married later in life and struggled with infertility. My reality centered on disappointing pregnancy test results and empty arms.
Seven years ago, my reality changed when my husband and I adopted our son. Three years ago, our daughter joined our family.
You have to understand that even with our infertility struggle, adoption was never our Plan B; it was our plan.
When Chris and I married 12 years ago, we talked about adoption as part of creating our family. Why? Adoption is an integral part of both of our life stories – we were raised by women who were not our biological mothers, but who chose to love us, and in doing, so saved us.
They chose to love us.
They saved us.
It was always important for us to do the same.
The Beautiful Gifts From Birthmothers
Just like adoptive parents, birthmothers also choose to love.
It’s unfair for people to wonder, “How could a mother just give her baby away?” A birthmother does not give her baby away; she taps every bit of love and courage she has to make a plan for her child.
Women who place their children for adoption are brave. They see their own limitations and yearn for more for their child. They trust that God can do something for their child that they are unable to do.
I have met my children’s birthmothers. The experiences were humbling, harrowing, beautiful and hard.
Their great sacrifice met my joy and longing for a child; the contrast was tremendous.
“Have you given your baby a name?” I asked one of the women.
“No,” she replied.
The next words she said are permanently etched in my heart.
“I have been carrying this gift. For nine months I have carried this GIFT not knowing who I was carrying this gift for,” she added. “Today, I can tell you, without reservation, I know who I am carrying this gift for. I am carrying this gift for you.”
The Spiritual Bond of Adoption
The link between the birthmother, adoptive parent and child is such an amazing connection and the closest thing to the gospel lived out that I have ever experienced.
There is NOTHING I could do to pay these women back. There is nothing I could do to earn this. There is nothing I could do to thank them or compensate them for the lives they carried. THAT is the gospel. Grace in the flesh.
You Love Them More
I have had many people ask me if parents love an adopted child differently than a biological child. I tell you and those who ask, you love them more.
As God gives children biologically to some, you have to love them, there is this notion that they are yours. When adopting, this love is a choice – a choice being a greater love.
To me, this is a constant reminder that God chooses to love us when He doesn’t have to.
It is His gift to choose us. This has helped me hold loosely to what God loans me, noting each moment with my children truly is a gift.
Adoption has forever changed me and has given me the opportunity to be a mother I always dreamed of being. God did not have Plan B for me and my husband; adoption was His plan. If we had had biological children, they would not have been more beautiful than our son and daughter.
God had a perfect plan for me, my husband, my children and the precious birthmothers. Despite my years of infertility and waiting on adoptions, He showed up on time.
For all of us.
What to Expect When You’re Pursuing Adoption
People will say the wrong things. Talking about infertility and adoption can be awkward for those who’ve never experienced it. While many comments can be well-intended, statements such as “You can always adopt” can be piercing to a couple who struggles with infertility or one that’s waited months or years for an adoption placement.
Talk to others who have adopted children. When we started, we had no idea what to expect and got a quick, and sometimes, intimidating education about adoption costs, attorney fees, mountains of paperwork and more. We also had no idea about the emotional roller coaster adoption could involve. While our experience with birthmothers was positive, some families face heartache, especially if the birthmother changes her mind about the adoption. Talking with other families can be helpful for preparation, but more importantly, it can also be helpful to have a sympathetic ear that understands what you’re going through.
Find an adoption agency you TRUST. There are literally thousands of agencies all around the world that work to connect families. Don’t go with one based on fancy websites or lowest fees. (I discovered fees from $25,000 to $135,000.) Do your research and PRAY. My husband and I chose to work with a local agency that based its fees on a percentage of our income, which placed adoption within our reach and did a lot to build trust.
Please don’t let expenses be the barrier that keeps you from adopting. Many churches have funds set aside for hopeful couples, and some families we have known have gotten creative in holding concerts or fundraisers to help in their financial aid. The government offered adoption credits when we were placed with our children, which was helpful in offsetting the expense. Now, the aid money is no longer refunded but credited to your tax return.
Choosing can hurt. Choosing one child means you can’t choose another, and that can be emotionally devastating. These children come from all races, all ages and all abilities. Some have disabilities such as developmental delays or physical impairments while some may have suffered abuse at the hands of caregivers. All of them need loving families.
Take a serious look at yourself. The adoption agencies have to do a lot of evaluation of prospective parents to make sure a child will be well cared for. There are home studies, psychological evaluations, analysis of your finances and more. However, the most important evaluation required for adoption is the one you have to do on yourself. Are you ready, willing and able to do all the things a parent needs to do to provide a good life for a child?
Get out of your head while you wait. It’s very easy to spend too much time thinking and worrying. For me, I needed to dive into a hobby to get out of my head. I started painting during those “waiting years.” I painted murals for friends’ nurseries and individual paintings that I scripted “Be Thankful,” as a reminder to myself, to do simply that. Gratitude begets joy, and joy is necessary to keep moving forward.